Rod Blagojevich, the ousted Illinois governor whose three-year battle against criminal charges became a national spectacle, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday, one of the stiffest penalties imposed for corruption in a state with a history of crooked politics.
Blagojevich's 18 convictions included allegations of trying to leverage his power to appoint someone to President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat to raise campaign cash or land a high-paying job.
The twice-elected Democrat is now the second former Illinois governor in a row to be sentenced to prison, and the fourth Illinois governor in the last four decades. His Republican predecessor, George Ryan, currently is serving a sentence of 6 1/2 years, also for corruption.
Blagojevich had told the judge that he made "terrible mistakes" and acknowledged that he broke the law when he tried to sell an appointment to the Senate seat.
Blagojevich's attorneys admitted for the first time Tuesday that he is guilty of corruption and accepts the verdicts against him, but said the sentence of 15 to 20 years prosecutors wanted was too harsh. The defense also presented heartfelt appeals from Blagojevich's family, including letters from his wife Patti and one of his two daughters that pleaded for mercy.
But the judge made it clear early in the hearing that he believed that Blagojevich had lied on the witness stand when he tried to explain his scheming for the Senate seat, and he did not believe defense suggestions that the former governor was duped by his advisers.